“‘I was collecting Pokemon’ is not a legal defense”: Police warn Pokemon Go trespassers

Law enforcement officers around the world are increasingly troubled by Pokémon Go, the new augmented-reality game for mobile that’s taking players places where they probably shouldn’t be.

The Pokémon Go app encourages players walk far and wide, in pursuit of virtual Pokémon who are planted in real places. But since its launch, excited players have been venturing into closed public spaces after hours and even trespassing onto private properties.

In central Virginia, the Goochland County Sheriff’s office posted on Facebook that officers have seen a rise in trespassing and “suspicious activity” related to the game:

Deputies have located numerous individuals on business, church, and government properties at all hours of the night, when these places are closed to the public. The participants are using their phones to find the location of “Pokemons” in order to play the game. These actions are considered trespassing and put the individual and Deputies in a position of unnecessary risk.

Meteorologist Dave Snider noticed a proliferation of Pokémon Go activity around the National Weather Service’s headquarters in Anchorage, and warned players against trespassing on federal property, reports the Alaska Dispatch News. The same location was also featured on Ingress, an earlier game by Pokemon Go’s creators Niantic Labs, said Snider.

Pokemon go! No? Really. Go. #akwx

A post shared by The Sniderman (@davesnider) on

Throngs of Pokémon players also pose more serious safety threats. Fire fighters in Cicero, New York, warned on Facebook that they found people playing in their parking lot, a potential problem for emergency responders leaving and arriving at the fire station.

In Duvall, Washington, police also found Pokémon players “popping out of bushes” uncomfortably close to their station. “This is high on our list of things that are not cool right now,” the police station posted on Facebook.

Please remember that these are especially tense times as of the last few days. Do not lurk around the PD at any hour while you are playing Pokemon Go—it makes an unsafe situation for you and our Officers. If you feel the need to use the PD as part of your game, just use common sense: Come on in to the lobby during business hours and say hi and let someone behind the counter or an officer know you are looking for an imaginary critter thing and make sure that your presence is well-known, for example.

Elsewhere, law officials have encouraged people to enjoy the Nintendo-Niantic game with moderation.

Pokémon Go is currently available to players in United States, Australia and New Zealand and law enforcement ire seems to have spread everywhere the game is played. In Western Australia, where police playfully announced their own Pokehunt (“WA Police have received numerous reports of Pokemon around the state. Rest assured – we’re gonna catch ’em all!”), authorities were still careful to note:

“‘I was collecting Pokemon’ is not a legal defence against a charge of trespass, so be sure that you have permission to enter an area or building.”

Always know where you shouldn’t Pokemon Go.

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